Thursday, March 13, 2014

Forgiveness Frees You

BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity. …  Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:26-27;31-32

The recent sermon series on forgiveness has challenged many to search their hearts to see if bitterness has found root in their lives.  Such a condition can be devastating to our spiritual, emotional and even physical health.  Paul speaks to this problem in encouraging the Ephesian church to guard their lives from hate and instead become encouragers of others.

Forgiveness Frees You From the Destructive Habits of a Bitter Soul.
It is easy to let momentary grievances against us cause long-term problems.  Unforgiven offences give Satan an opportunity in our lives.  The word opportunity means a small area of occupancy and jurisdiction.  When Satan gains a place in the soul he keeps us in bondage directing us to act from a corrupt center in our lives.  Our speech and actions are affected. 

Many Christians have knelt at the altar, asking God to forgive them for their bitter and hateful actions, often promising to be different. But they can't because Satan still has a place in their soul that he claims as his own because of past, unforgiven offenses.

The symptoms of an unforgiving spirit are manifested in both our behavior and our attitude. Emotional symptoms according to Paul include bitterness or deeply felt resentment; wrath or anger out of control (rage); or even a spirit of anger that causes us continual displeasure in life.  Behavioral symptoms display our bitterness through clamor or causing a stir and being contentious; slander, displayed by a need to talk about the person, point out faults and criticize; and malice, which is a general evil spirit towards others.

We can ask God to forgive these things, and He will. But until we forgive those who have hurt us, Satan will still control a part of our soul and we will continue to be enslaved to these destructive habits of bitterness.

Forgiveness: God's Way to Freedom. Verse 32
We can forgive because we have been forgiven.  The key to forgiveness is to focus on what God has done for you. As God forgave us (freely, undeserving) we are to forgive those who have hurt us.  The first step to freedom from bitterness is to let God forgive you; confess your own bitterness; your selfish actions, hateful speech, carnal living. Next, agree with God that your feelings of bitterness, wrath, malice, etc. have no place in your life as a Christian. Then, thank God for the blood of Christ that cleanses you from your sin.

You will now be free to forgive your offenders and pull the root of bitterness from your heart.  As an act of your will in faith before God, release them from any obligation to make things right and extend to them the same grace God has given you.  Finally, ask God to take possession of the place in your soul that Satan claimed as his own.  When you cease to grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption (v30), He will assume His place in the center of your heart and replace all of the anger, bitterness, malice and slander with love.  Now that is a good exchange!

Scripture to claim:

Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.  Ephesians 4:29

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